Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO)

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New RNAV Approaches Enable Greater Access to Santa Monica Airport

April 25, 2017

Three new RNAV approach procedures into Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) will go into effect later this week, dramatically expanding access to the Southern California airfield in adverse weather conditions. The new procedures follow more than two years of engagement by NBAA with the FAA.

"Before these new procedures, only a non-precision VOR circling approach was available," said Heidi Williams, NBAA's director of air traffic services and infrastructure. "That can be problematic due to Santa Monica's proximity to LAX [Los Angeles International Airport] and, furthermore, the VOR-A approach isn't permitted at night."

Implementation of RNAV approaches into Santa Monica had been hindered by a required vertical descent angle (VDA) that precluded straight-in approaches. NBAA representatives worked with FAA officials to overcome this issue through the association's involvement in the Regional Airspace Procedures Team and the Southern California Metroplex Project.

Thanks to these discussions, the FAA's Flight Standards Service Procedures Review Board ultimately agreed the VDA could be safely lowered to accommodate the RNAV procedure requirements. Members of the Santa Monica Airport Association helped overcome another hurdle by coordinating with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to aid with the removal of an obstruction along the approach path.

While all three new RNAV approaches offer significantly improved access to SMO for business aircraft operators, the localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approach to Runway 21 is the "game changer," according to Williams.

"The LPV approach comes just in time for the upcoming 'June Gloom' across the Los Angeles basin, when a low-level marine cloud layer is common in the mornings," explained Williams. "This stabilized, straight-in approach is much less complex than flying the circling approach and provides minimums, allowing pilots to safely get below the weather."

NBAA encourages business aircraft pilots to review the updated approach plates and familiarize themselves with the new procedures ahead of the April 27 implementation date.

"For business aviation to thrive, it is vital to have access to airports and airspace," Williams concluded. "These new approaches dramatically improve access to SMO."

View additional information about new procedures. (PDF)